For Janet Curtis, what began as a hobby has morphed into a successful business venture.
In 2000, Curtis started concocting shea butter creams and body washes in her kitchen for her personal use. Three years later, she was ready to open a shop in Chestnut Hill.
Curtis launched her business with the goal of offering high end products at an affordable price.
Today Jahaya’s Organic Skin Care and Healing Spa offers approximately 30 natural products.
The shop’s wooden shelves display handmade soaps in the scents of lemongrass, oatmeal, lavender and peppermint; natural face washes; astringents; vitamin C, alpha-hydroxy and acne prone skin facial toners; anti-aging facial creams; pumpkin masques; shower butters; shea butters; shea butter creams; foot scrubs; hair growth and emu oils.
“There’s a little bit of something for everybody,” Curtis says of her shop’s offerings. “Natural products give you instant gratification.”
One product that she can barely keep on her shelves is the Mango Passion Tea Shea Butter — mixed with Curtis’ blend of special ingredients.
“It’s very alluring to the opposite sex,” says Curtis, who noticed many of her female customers’ mates encouraged them to purchase the shea butter after smelling it for the first time.
“That’s a shelf staple. If I don’t have that, people have a major attitude.”
Now Curtis is gearing up for the holidays, when she offers another popular seasonal product — a white chocolate raspberry mousse. Custom gift baskets are also available during the Christmas season.
Throughout her years in business, Curtis has used her own skin as a testing ground for her natural products.
“Some of the things I test on myself because I have very sensitive skin,” says Curtis, who has a background as a health educator for children.
The shop, located at 8138 Germantown Avenue serves as the place where Curtis mixes and bottles her products. When she first started out, Curtis would mix products at home -where she admits the process had a negative impact on her kitchen.
Shoppers might even wander in while she’s in the midst of bottling a new batch. Curtis has also incorporated body detoxing at Jahaya’s.
While interacting with her customers, Curtis takes the time to educate them about the benefits of using certain natural ingredients on their skin.
“There’s so much false information out there about good products,” she pointed out.
After years of concocting products, Curtis still has a passion for what she does.
“I always enjoyed doing it. I still enjoy it,” she said. “After eight years, I still lie in bed and wonder ‘can I do that?’”
Preliminary plans are in the works for Curtis to develop a skin care line, inspired by her granddaughter, for ‘tweens and teens.
The Mt. Airy resident was drawn to Chestnut Hill’s close proximity to her home.
Jahaya’s has outlived a number of businesses on the Germantown Avenue shopping corridor. Curtis credits her staple product offerings for enabling Jahaya’s to survive a tough economic environment.
“I make staple products. Either you’re going to go to CVS or Rite Aid and buy a cream or you can come here and buy a cream for a comparable price,” Curtis says.
“People will always put aside money for beauty care products. They may feel bad but they’re not going to look bad.”